BCA encourages lift owners to modernise their existing lifts for better reliability

Policemen at the scene where an elderly woman’s hand was found outside the lift by Singapore Civil Defence Force rescuers at Tah Ching Road.
Policemen at the scene where an elderly woman’s hand was found outside the lift by Singapore Civil Defence Force rescuers at Tah Ching Road. PHOTO: LIANHE WANBAO

SINGAPORE - As part of an ongoing review of lift and escalator regulations, the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) is encouraging lift owners to modernise their lifts for greater reliability and performance.

It has also come up with a list of recommended technologies for this voluntary move.

These include an electrical interlocking switch for multi-panel lift doors, which ensures that when the lift door panel is open, the lift will stop moving immediately; and a battery-powered automatic rescue device for lifts with no standby power generating system, which can bring the lift to the nearest landing and open the doors in the event of power failure.

Said Dr John Keung, BCA chief executive officer: "BCA will be issuing an advisory to lift owners and the industry and we encourage all lift owners to consider lift modernisation to further improve the standard of existing lifts in Singapore."

This follows the BCA's study of Singapore's current stock of lifts and possible recommendations to improve lift performance.

Over the past six months, BCA studied features installed in existing lifts and benchmarked them against international practices. It then convened an international panel of experts, including local experts and industry stakeholders, to review BCA's recommendations on the modernisation of existing lifts in Singapore.

There are about 61,000 passenger lifts in Singapore. When properly used, maintained and inspected, existing lifts will still be safe for operation, said the BCA in a release on Friday (Sept 16).

"However, technological advancements may mean that some lifts are not equipped with the latest features," it added. "In this regard, there is scope to modernise such lifts and to bring them on a par with newer lifts."

Mandatory lift modernisation programmes have been carried out in places such as Belgium and New York, while Finland and Hong Kong have set guidelines for voluntary modernisation.

The BCA drew up its lists of recommended items based on earlier consultation with the industry and benchmarked against safety standards. BCA also took into consideration the observations from lift audit checks conducted by its lift engineers, as well as the findings from recent lift incidents in Singapore and abroad.

The experts which BCA consulted supported the idea of voluntary modernisation and the list of recommended items.

To attract more workers to the lift industry, the BCA is looking at introducing a defined career progression pathway for both technicians and industry professionals, which aims to "provide clarity in their career progression and boost confidence about their prospects in the industry".

Currently, the BCA-Industry Joint Scholarship/Sponsorship provides funding support to students who are looking to join the lift or escalator industry, as well as a competitive and progressive salary upon graduation.

Furthermore, BCA is looking at the possibility of having a structured methodology for preventive lift maintenance. It is also exploring the idea of remote monitoring and diagnostics.

These plans will be further studied in consultation with the industry. Details will be provided when the plans are finalised.